A Texas inmate was executed Wednesday for killing a Dallas-area convenience store clerk during a shooting spree that he said was in retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Mark Stroman, 41, was lethally injected shortly after his final court appeal was rejected. He was pronounced dead at 8:53 p.m. at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit.
Stroman claimed the shooting spree that killed two men and injured a third targeted people of Middle Eastern descent, though all three victims were from South Asia. It was the death of 49-year-old Vasudev Patel that put Stroman on death row.
The lone survivor, Rais (Raze) Bhuiyan (Boo-yon), unsuccessfully sued to stop the execution, saying his Muslim beliefs told him to forgive Stroman. The courts denied his requests.
From the death chamber, Stroman asked for God's grace and said hate in the world had to stop.
"Even though I lay on this gurney, seconds away from my death, I am at total peace," he said. He later called himself "still a proud American, Texas loud, Texas proud."
"God bless America. God bless everyone," he added, then turned to the warden and said: "Let's do this damn thing."
The execution was briefly delayed as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals considered a final appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals earlier Wednesday.
In an unusual step, Bhuiyan had asked the courts to halt Stroman's execution. The native of Bangladesh and a former convenience store worker lost the sight in one of his eyes when Stroman shot him in the face.
He also said he wanted to spend time with the convict to learn more about why the shootings occurred.
"Killing him is not the solution," Bhuiyan said. "He's learning from his mistake. If he's given a chance, he's able to reach out to others and spread that message to others."
A federal district judge in Austin rejected the suit and Bhuiyan's request for an injunction on Wednesday afternoon. His lawyers appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Justice Antonin Scalia turned it down.
Stroman's lawyer, in a separate appeal to the Supreme Court, pointed to Bhuiyan's "significant surprise" and argued that attorneys during Stroman's trial and in earlier stages of his appeals were deficient for not illustrating "the path that led him to this violent frenzy."
Stroman's execution was the eighth this year in Texas. At least eight other inmates in the nation's busiest death penalty state have execution dates in the coming weeks.